AP Photo/Tom Mihalek
The Phillies were riding a three-game winning streak. It appeared as though the streak was over, and most had left Citizens Bank Park, when the most dramatic comeback of the season took place. It was a ninth inning to remember, and it’s what made this game special.
The Pirates had control for most of the game. They torched Cole Hamels for three runs in the first and two more in the second, all on home runs. The Phillies were able to push three runs across in the sixth, to cut the lead to two. The Pirates answered right back, with two more runs in the seventh. After a rally fell short in the seventh for the Phillies, and John Grabow shut the Phillies down in the eighth, it looked like the winning streak was over, and the game was a lost cause. Then came the ninth inning, and an incredible rally. The Phillies entered that dramatic inning trailing 7-3, with little hope of a comeback occurring. Although it was not a save situation, Pirates closer Matt Capps was on the hill for the ninth. Matt Stairs led off the inning, hoping to provide a spark. He cut into the lead, blasted a solo shot to right. Then, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley reached base, Ryan Howard stepped up representing the tying run. He ripped a three-run shot to center to tie the game. The comeback was almost complete, but the Phillies still had only one out, and a chance to win the game. Raul Ibanez doubled, Jayson Werth walked, and Pedro Feliz reached on an infield single. Paul Bako came up with the game-winning single and the Phillies had completed a five-run inning for a comeback win, 8-7.
This game was over, and when Matt Stairs hit a solo shot, you wished there was somebody on base. As the inning continued the hope for a comeback grew, the dramatic happened, and the excitement built. By the end of the rally, a celebration ensued and the Phillies had lengthened a winning streak to four, and it would grow into the longest winning streak of the year, at ten games.
This game ranks because of the dramatic five-run comeback that seemed so unlikely. The drama that unfolded in Citizens Bank Park was incredible, and hard to believe. It was one of the comebacks that define a team, and it was that fighting spirit that made us believe that no lead was too large for the Phillies to fight off. That’s what makes this game the third ranked game on our list of Games of the Year: 2009.